Yesterday ( 12/21/10) , Yahoo Finance featured an article headlined Colleges That Bring the Highest Paycheck 2011 . It gave the results of a survey by Paycheck.com / CNBC that ranked colleges on the basis of the median mid-career salaries of their graduates . The following were the top eight colleges on the list.
1. Harvey Mudd College
Mid-career median salary: $126,000 Starting median salary: $68,900
2. Princeton University
Mid-career median salary: $123,000 Starting median salary: $58,900
3. Dartmouth College
Mid-career median salary : $ 123,000 Starting median salary : $54 , 100
4. Harvard University
Mid-career median salary : $ 120,000 Starting median salary : $ 57,300
5. California Institute of Technology ( Cal Tech )
Mid-career median salary : $ 120,000 Starting median salary : $ 69,900
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT )
Mid-career median salary : $ 119,300 Starting median salary : $ 68,300
Mid-career median salary : $ 119,000 Starting median salary : $ 60,200
Mid -career median salary : $ 119,000 Starting median salary : $ 48,000
At first glance , this list appears amazing . Imagine that: the top-ranked college on the list — Harvey Mudd an engineering college with an enrollment of less than 800 ! Princeton in second place , Harvard in fourth !! Little -known Colgate finishing ahead of Ivy league heavyweights Yale , Penn, Columbia and Cornell !!
It appears to be too good to be true and it is . A little thought shows the fallacy of these rankings and why one should never accept anything at face-value , even if the “facts” are backed up by statistics.
Harvey Mudd College is an engineering college and engineering/ technology graduates command higher salaries than graduates in other disciplines. This can be readily seen by the fact that the highest starting salaries(on the list ) are those earned by graduates of Mudd, California Institute of Technology and MIT, all of which are engineering / technology institutions . On the other hand , Harvard , Princeton and the other institutions on the list offer a variety of majors , most of which are not as well-paying e.g liberal arts , education , social work , psychology etc. Naturally the average salaries of all graduates at such institutions will be lower than those of graduates of an engineering college . For a truly fair comparison , one would have to compare the salaries of Harvey Mudd graduates to the salaries of engineering graduates from other schools.
Another interesting point to note : Even though engineering salaries for fresh grads are higher than the average salaries in other disciplines , it should be noted that the gap narrows considerably when it comes to median mid-career salaries.
(This is not to belittle Harvey Mudd or its graduates in any way. I happen to know a bit about Harvey Mudd because one of my nephews is a proud graduate of that college . Mudd is an excellent college , with an innovative cutting edge curriculum and it is very selective. Even in a comparison of engineering schools it would rank at or near the top. )